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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Two of Calipari's recruits opting out from Memphis

Two of Calipari's recruits opting out from Memphis
Cousins following Tigers' former coach to Kentucky; Dennis destination uncertain
By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, April 9, 2009

As expected, two members of the recruiting class compiled by John Calipari last season at the University of Memphis have officially chosen to go elsewhere.

Big man DeMarcus Cousins, a consensus top-five player nationally who verbally committed to Memphis last month, switched to Kentucky on Wednesday. Shooting guard Nolan Dennis, meanwhile, asked for his release from Memphis and apparently will not consider playing for the Tigers under new coach Josh Pastner.

"We just want people to know that we are not going to attend Memphis because we were going to attend Memphis because of Calipari," his mother, Carol Dennis, told "I think Nolan wants to go to Kentucky, but I'm not for sure, but I know he's not going to go to Memphis. That is a definite."

With their departures, that leaves just the two junior college players, forward Will Coleman and wing Darnell Dodson, as Memphis signees. Shooting guard Xavier Henry was also part of the recruiting class, but he has been released from his letter-of-intent and is unlikely to attend Memphis.

Coleman and Dodson could choose to look elsewhere, though Pastner has spent his first days on the job trying to re-recruit the remaining signees. It's also possible that he could attempt to hire their coach, Matt Eisele, onto his Memphis staff in hopes of keeping one or both to smooth the transition.

Pastner said at his news conference Tuesday that if the recruits didn't want to come to Memphis, he'd try to find other players this spring to fill their spots.

"I think their feelings might be a tad bit hurt because all along I was recruiting for Coach Cal and then when he leaves I was part of the process of telling guys that he was going to be here," Pastner said. "I'll have to try to bridge that gap and that'll be tough."

Meanwhile, Pastner is trying to keep the 2009-10 roster together almost singlehandedly until he hires a new coaching staff. His father, Hal Pastner, has remained in town to help while graduate assistant Scott Robinson has also been aiding the transition. The rest of Calipari's staff from Memphis has already gone to Kentucky.

Call Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his Tiger basketball stories and blog at

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